Report: 26 year old, 25 goal scorer up for grabs

Expect teams to line up significant offers for this guy.

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According to a report from the infamous Larry Brooks of the New York Post, contract negotiations between the New York Rangers and restricted free agent Kevin Hayes are not going well. Brooks reports that the two sides seem headed for a one year agreement and an eventual trade. 

Check out this bomb from Brooks’ latest article in The Post:

Barring an unforeseen development, the Rangers and Kevin Hayes appear on their way to a one-year contract that will usher the 26-year-old center to unrestricted free agency a year from now … after he is dealt at the deadline for a presumed late first-round draft pick, that is.

Hayes and the Rangers are slated to head to arbitration on Thursday afternoon and it’s expected that the 26 year old, 25 goal scorer will argue that he’s worth $5.5 million to $6 million annually. Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton, of course, will argue otherwise. 

Slap Shots has learned there has been little traction in talks between the parties regarding a long-term agreement aimed at keeping Hayes on Broadway as one of the rebuilding linchpins. The improper Bostonian, scheduled for a salary-arbitration hearing on Thursday, is believed to be seeking deal between $5.5 million and $6 million per for five or six years. General manager Jeff Gorton doesn’t seem inclined to make that type of commitment to him.

The thing is… Hayes will get a long-term deal in that dollar range, either with the Rangers or somewhere else. The truth is that 6 foot, 5 inch, 220 pound centers who can put up 20+ goals each season are worth a LOT in today’s NHL. Gorton and the Rangers may not see Hayes as an integral part of their rebuild and future, but certainly another NHL team will be happy to pay him a salary that’s in line with the five year, $29.1 million deal that  Adam Henrique just signed with the Anaheim Ducks.

The question is… where will Hayes end up and what’s his return value to the Rangers? It’s no secret that the Montreal Canadiens are desperate for a center, could Hayes fit the bill in La Belle Province? Or what about a Rangers rival like the New Jersey Devils? Hayes could look pretty good in Travis Zajac’s spot as the Devils’ second line center. 

Regardless of where he ends up, Hayes will command significant interest on the trade market and, should they elect to deal him, the Rangers will receive a first round pick PLUS additional assets in exchange. Let the bidding begin…